The last 12 months haven’t been kind to “Saturday Night Live.”
Yes, the show grabbed tons of coverage for its Donald Trump takedowns. Savvy viewers saw something else. A once great political satire essentially transform into yet another progressive platform.
Week after week “SNL” either ignored President Barack Obama’s foibles, hammered GOP voters as racist … or trotted out Team Clinton’s talking points as fact.
Yet the veteran show still delivered some very funny skits. Partially credit the cast. Bobby Moynihan remains a hoot. Kate McKinnon is a livewire in the tradition of previous “SNL” standouts.
Here are five “SNL” skits from 2016 which lived up to the show’s proud tradition.
5. Star Wars Undercover Boss
Guest host Adam Driver absolutely crushes it in this sly TV show parody. It’s exactly what “SNL” does at its best. It’s pop-culture savvy, well executed and consistently funny.
Too many “SNL” hosts sleepwalk through their bits, rely too much on the cue cards or simply look stiff. Driver gives an inspired performance, tweaking his new “Star Wars” fame along the way.
4. The Karate Teen
Who knew John Cena could be so funny? He made us howl in “Trainwreck,” and he anchored a few solid sketches on “SNL” this year.
This quasi-movie spoof proved it.
Even better, this oddly timed “Karate Kid” spook poked our nostalgia circuits and made us laugh all at once. It’s also a reminder just how hilarious veteran “SNL” star Kenan Thompson can be given the right material.
3. Dunkin Donuts
Fake commercials represent a grand tradition on “SNL.” At their best, they look like real ads until the comic kicker arrives.
Casey Affleck is no one’s idea of an inspired comic. The “Manchester by the Sea” star shines here all the same, drawing on his Boston-area roots to grand effect.
You half expect the real Dunkin Donuts to use this somehow, some way … if only they could clean it up a tad.
2. Democratic Debate
Early in the presidential campaign, “SNL” could afford to mock both sides of the battle. Here, we see five candidates but only two with any real hope for surviving the primary skirmish.
That let the show’s creative team engage in fact-based mockery, down to Clinton’s overt attempts to reboot her public persona again.
Larry David is note perfect as Bernie Sanders, too.
Many argued this sketch, a somber tribute to Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, marked the low point for “SNL’s” attempt at bipartisan humor. How could the show pretend to be neutral when it staged a funeral of sorts for one candidate?
And they were right.
Yet 2016’s best comic line came near the end of Kate McKinnon’s take on the Leonard Cohen classic. She read these lines straight, still in her Clinton character.
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you.
What’s funnier than that?